Tag Archives: Megan Fox

Exit Stage Willis

Midnight in the Switchgrass

by George Wolf

This is the third Bruce Willis film so far this year. That leaves 13 more in production, and 1 in development. And if you’ve seen even a few of the titles in Bruno’s output over the last several years, you can assume a couple things about his latest right away.

First, regardless of his presence in the poster and/or trailer, Willis will only show up for a few scenes in the actual film. And secondly, his character won’t be that integral to the story.

Both assumptions prove true with Midnight in the Switchgrass, a thriller that manages to work itself a notch or two above most films in the “Exit Stage Willis” subgenre.

Willis is Karl Helter, the old and tired FBI partner of agent Rebecca Lombardi (Megan Fox). Rebecca’s been going undercover as a hooker to try and catch the serial killer (Lukas Haas) stalking truck stops and roadside motels around Pensacola, Florida (a character inspired by real life “Truck Stop Killer” Robert Rhoades).

There’s a string of similar cold cases dating back several years, a fact that still haunts Florida state police officer Byron Crawford (Emile Hirsch). When a new victim turns up, Byron is compelled to assist Rebecca and Karl any way he can.

Well, he assists one of them, anyway, because Karl conveniently bails before Rebecca is kidnapped by the killer and events turn mildly interesting.

This is the debut feature for both writer Alan Horsnail and director Randall Emmett, though Emmett’s long tenure as a producer appears to have honed his ability to craft a generic crime drama that imitates more gripping films – one in particular.

A killer’s identity that is never in doubt, paired with parallel storylines and certain other flourishes I won’t mention for fear of spoilers, all bring a serious Silence of The Lambs vibe.

That’s rarefied and ambitious air that Switchgrass can’t live in, though it does carve out a few respectably tense manhunt moments. Fox and Hirsch rise above some heavy-handed dialogue – even Bruno seems halfway interested while he’s around – and Haas is effectively creepy.

Add it all up, check the scorecards, and on the sliding scale of Willis its rank is roughly equal to Citizen Kane.

Midnight in the Switchgrass is available on VOD July 23rd.

Ain’t Easy Being Green

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: Out of the Shadows

by Hope Madden

Let’s say your 8-year-old child (or thirty-ish husband) really wants to see Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: Out of the Shadows. Maybe they love the cartoon. Maybe they had a TMNT digital watch back in ’91. And socks. And a skateboard. What’s the harm in indulging?

It’s been a year since Shredder tried to annihilate NYC, but because the green brothers threw credit to their cameraman helper Vern (Will Arnett), they remain unknown to the town they love and saved while Vern soaks up all the glory.

But wait! What if a mad scientist wants to use a teleportation device to break Shredder out of jail? And what if that teleportation device sends the supervillain through time and space to meet with an even bigger, badder villain? And what if the two evildoers hatch a plan to enslave Earth and eliminate the turtles by creating sloppy, fat mutant animals of their own?

So, it’s a rock solid plot that only required about ten minutes of excruciating exposition, but the point is, turtles hate bullies!

How do they feel about objectification and exploitation? I’m going to guess they’re OK with it.

Yes, Megan Fox returns as the foursome’s ogle-friendly reporter/BFF. She has two costume changes within her first full 3 minutes onscreen, but they’re vitally important as they allow her to flirt her way close to the information she needs to sleuth out Shredder’s plan.

How else could she possibly do it!?

I could almost give the film’s banal screenplay a pass as simple, mindless kids’ fun if Fox’s presence matched that child-friendly stupidity in any way. Here’s the real tragedy, though: the great Laura Linney is in this dumpster fire of a film.

The sequel is directed by Dave Green (Earth to Echo) with no flair whatsoever for using CGI to move a story along, or even sensibly portray action. Muddy and confused, the set pieces are rarely if ever compelling enough to keep your attention away from the mind-deadening laziness of the screeplay.

By 92 minutes in, I’d lost the will to live, and there was still another twenty minutes to endure.

You love your kids and your husband, but be good to yourself. Skip this one. Dial up some old episodes on YouTube instead.


Big Green Dud


Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

by George Wolf


So, what’s this movie about?

Teenage. Mutant. Ninja. Turtles.

OK, not much gray area in that title, but it does sound fun.

It could have been, but producer Michael Bay and director Jonathan Liebesman can’t find a balance between Saturday morning sensibilities and adult superhero action.

There’s a serious origin story, as we see how the four massive turtles (and their wise sensai, a rat) come to live under the streets of New York City, battling a crime syndicate known as the Foot Clan.

Young TV reporter April O’Neil (Megan Fox) catches a glimpse of the secretive vigilantes in action, and instantly knows that unmasking them is the big story that will propel her career.

The turtles themselves still love pizza and make wisecracks, but these moments of silliness and self-aware humor seem meant for a different film. The plot that surrounds the young ninjas is full of cartoon obviousness played overly straight, with no hint of the tongue-in-cheek attitude it sorely needs.

In short, where’s the fun? The tech-savvy, 3D action sequences may be big and loud, but they’re also dull, confusing and instantly forgettable. It isn’t long before this film feels too long.

The idea of a big-budget TMNT reboot works, both on a nostalgia level and as a business model aimed at today’s kids.

Maybe it should have stayed an idea, because it lands on the big screen with a big, green, slimy thud.




Halloween Calendar, Day 27: Jennifer’s Body


Day 27:  Jennifer’s Body (2009)


If Ginger Snaps owes a lot to Carrie (and it does), then Jennifer’s Body finds itself even more indebted to Ginger Snaps.

The central premise: Boys are stupid, throw rocks at them. Better still, lure them to an isolated area and eat them, leaving their carcasses for the crows. This is the surprisingly catchy idea behind this coal-black horror comedy.

In for another surprise? Megan Fox’s performance is spot-on as the high school hottie turned demon. Director Karyn Kusama’s film showcases the actress’s most famous assets, but also mines for comic timing and talent other directors apparently overlooked.

Amanda Seyfried’s performance as the best friend, replete with homely girl glasses and Jan Brady hairstyle, balances Fox’s smolder, and both performers animate Diablo Cody’s screenplay with authority. They take the Snaps conceit and expand it – adolescence sucks for all girls, not just the outcasts.

In place of two alienated sisters, Jennifer’s Body shadows best friends – the smokin’ hot cheerleader (actually, oddly, she’s on flag squad), and the best friend whose non-glam look bolsters the popular girl’s insecurity-riddled self-esteem.

Cody’s script shines bright, as she gives the horror genre the rare chance to benefit from the pen of an Oscar winner. In turn, the young talent handling her acerbic prose does her proud. Adam Brody’s smarmy, contemptuous indie rocker steals several scenes, including a screamer set to “867-5309 Jenny.” Other welcome faces in small but memorable roles include J.K. Simmons and Amy Sedaris, both showing off and having fun in a film that far surpasses expectations.